What is the SF Irrigation Scheme (SFIS)?
The Southern Forest Irrigation Co-operative (SFIC) proposes to construct and operate a pump station adjacent to the Donnelly River at Chappel Road and pump water to a 15 gigalitre (GL) reservoir to be constructed approximately 3km to the east of the river on Record Brook. There will not and never has been, any plan to dam the Donnelly River. At the reservoir, a second pump station will transfer water via two separate pipelines to high points in the district where this water, on demand, will be gravity fed through an approximately 220km pipeline network to local farmers in and around the towns of Manjimup and Pemberton, known as the Southern Forests region.
The SFIS will supply up to 9.3 GL/yr of additional, sustainable water for farmers within the Southern Forests region of Western Australia. When the SFIS is in operation, water will only be pumped from the Donnelly River once environmental flows are met. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) have completed a comprehensive assessment of the proposed abstraction against the environmental requirements for the river and its ecology. Under the management rules for the operation of the SFIS set by DWER, the environmental flows to support key environmental values in the Donnelly River, will be maintained. Although it is recognised the self-supply system will continue to form the backbone of water supply in the region, the SFIS will provide an additional water source option for growers that is modern, efficient and sustainable.
The irrigation scheme is based on an innovative model pioneered in Tasmania, the scheme ensures we make the best use of local water – one of our most precious resources. Careful scientific modelling of the water allocation and a transparent water sale and trading mechanism means that water from the scheme will be used at optimum efficiency, without affecting existing regional water allocations.
To participate in water trading you must be a co-operative member, a landholder within the area and actively farm. Water cannot be decoupled from land. It is not possible to bank water and this is administrated through the Co-operative rules. These rules are also designed to ensure that investors or speculators cannot participate.
The SFIS is being developed to sustainably support the Manjimup Super Towns vision of expanding the area’s horticulture industry and doubling the population over the next 15 years.
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